As many of you know, I lost my husband just over a year ago. For me and my grief, it may as well be yesterday because the excrutiating pain of missing the love of your life doesn’t go away. I thought I’d just post this reminder because it’s truly astounding that predators lurk everywhere seeking out vulnerable people.
Since my husband’s passing, and much of it spent in Covid seclusion at the worst time of one’s life, I had turned to joining some online grief groups. I felt it may be a place I can be with like-minded people and those who’ve walked the walk, those who know how painful grief is, and that they may be places of comfortable harbor for me sometimes. But sadly, the amount of men who wangle their way into these groups hoping to seek out the vulnerable, seems to be ever-growing.
Personally speaking, these groups do not help me at all, yet, I continue to pop in for some words of solace. But because I consider myself a great Facebook ‘FBI’ profiler, I always click on the pages of those stalkers who continually message or leave messages in replies to my comments. Almost all of them seem to have lonely pages with barely a post, as though they specifically joined FB to lurk and lure.
I get many requests, compliments, and sweet nothings from plenty of lunatics on FB, but these grief pages top the charts with lurkers. These places are like a magnet for loveless losers to prey. How many times on the news are we warned about scammers, yet, so many still get caught in this web. It’s up to us all to do our due diligence and check out first, who we think we are friending and allowing into our personal circles. And I might add, the people who run these delicate group pages should also be more diligent when screening applicants who join these groups. It only takes me a moment to figure out many profiles are bogus, bots or that they have ill intentions. Why can’t a moderator do the same?
I’m a moderator in four different FB groups, and every time I get a request from someone who wants to join one of my groups, I take the time to visit the applicant’s page and schmooze around to see what they post, what they do, their ‘about’ page, and decide if they fit into my group. If all the prerequisites aren’t met, I don’t admit them.
It’s not hard to figure out how these lurkers find us. They join groups with vulnerable people and try to befriend them with sweet words. If you’re like me, and have all your posts on your FB page, only visible to ‘friends only’ (and you should), this is your first barrier of defense. They cannot roam on your page or see personal posts, but they can still message you, and these messages predominantly go to FB spam messages and sit there until we delete or accept if we don’t reply to their scammy comments on a post we left comment on. I think I have hundreds in mine over the years, I don’t even look anymore, other than when someone approaches me on a group page and then checking my spam messages to find them there too.
When people start leaving you messages in comments to a statement you made in a group that have no relevance to the comment you made, be suspicious. When you poured your grieving heart out in a statement and get a reply from a guy telling you how beautiful you are and asking you to please accept his friendship so he can message you privately, that’s just wrong. And just don’t allow these types of lurkers into your private space.
I may be grieving. I may be sentimental. But I’m no dummy. As many writers spend most of their waking life on the internet mingling in social media, we know well about lurkers, losers, hackers and scammers. But for the many who are not internet savvy. Pay attention to how you allow people into your digital life.